David Hanley, Nicholas Center alum (’15) and Senior Associate at Innosight (a Clayton Christensen strategy consulting firm), spoke to the Nicholas Center on November 16th, as part of our Applied Learning Series. David has extensive experience advising middle market and Fortune 500 firms on their automation strategies, and our students had the opportunity to hear him discuss various types of automation, automation’s impact on finance functions, and how finance professionals can prepare for and manage the advancement of automation technology throughout their careers.
The discussion initially focused on how Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software can complete or streamline many processes that have traditionally been completed by humans in financial analyst roles. Benefits of automation (increased process efficiency, error reduction, etc.) allow finance professionals to focus less time on data entry tasks and more time on higher value-add activities like data analytics. David advised students to avoid jobs responsible for completing highly repetitive and manual tasks as they are more likely to be automated in the near future. He finished his discussion by offering advice on how to prepare for automation in the future, emphasizing that our students remain flexible and adaptable to changes in business processes and become familiar with the technical aspects of automation software and programs.